Launching a Small Business in South Carolina
Our first blog post! What?!
When we first decided to venture out on our own, we were really excited. Between the two of us, Sonja and I had over 20 years experience in development, we worked for a well-known backup and disaster recovery company, and had each formed reputations for being hard-working, talented software engineers. Additionally, we had several knowledgeable and well-respected industry professionals on our side. This would be fun! Right?
We started by coming up with a name. Something that would be memorable and a little nerdy. B2 Development was perfect! We registered with the Secretary of State and registered with the federal government to get our EIN. Easy peasy. We started our website, a Facebook page and even a LinkedIn page. We connected with recruiters and we told all of our friends and waited for the jobs to start rolling in.
The problem with recruiters is that they cater to individuals looking for permanent positions, not businesses looking for short-term contract jobs. Eventually, one of my Facebook friends tagged me in a post where someone was looking for help building a registration page for a charity run they were hosting. I offered to do it for free if they would just give me a positive review for our website. They said NO! What? So we reached out to former coworkers and other professionals who told us they’d have some work for us. Not right now, but soon. OK, our names were out there, and that was a good thing!
Annnnd we waited some more.
Finally, one of our contacts suggested we reach out to the USC Incubator. We had a really good conversation with Caroline, but she couldn’t really do anything for us, because being a member costs money that we just didn’t have at the time, and they typically work with more established companies. She referred us to Robin Miller at PTAC, a branch of the SC Small Business Development Centers. Talking to Robin was like watching the flood gates open up! She gave us a crash course in getting government contracts, which was exactly what we needed! We told her our skills and what types of jobs we were looking for specifically. She told us how to do searches for these types of jobs, and told us what we needed to get “in” on government contracts.
For anyone in South Carolina attempting to open a small business, please reach out to the SC Small Business Development Centers. You’ll get great advice and guidance to set up your small business, and it doesn’t cost a thing. If you’re established, but need help marketing or expanding your client base, the USC Incubator is a great resource. Even if they can’t help you, they will most likely be able to point you in the direction of someone that can. If you are outside of South Carolina, you should look into your local university to see if they have an Incubator. If they don’t, your state most likely has a small business development center and/or PTAC.
What advice would you give to someone starting a small business? If you’re starting a small business, what else do you want to know?
Links to resources:
SC Small Business Development Center: https://www.scsbdc.com/
SC Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC): https://www.scsbdc.com/government
USC Incubator: http://www.usccolainc.org/
SC Secretary of State: https://www.scsos.com/index.asp